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One Light Low Key Headshot with Male Model

Lesson 19 from: The Business of Professional Headshots

Gary Hughes

One Light Low Key Headshot with Male Model

Lesson 19 from: The Business of Professional Headshots

Gary Hughes

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Lesson Info

19. One Light Low Key Headshot with Male Model


Class Trailer

Class Overview


Getting Headshot Clients


Headshot Pricing Models for Individuals


Headshot Pricing Models for Groups and Companies


Payment and Delivery for Groups


Six Styles of Business Headshots


Headshot Lighting Gear


Posing Basics for Headshots


Basic Standing Pose for Headshots


Basic Seated Pose for Headshots


Head Position for Headshots


Expression Sells the Image


One-Light High Key Headshot with Male Model


One-Light High Key Headshot with Female Model


Two-Light High Key Headshot with Male Model


Two-Light High Key Headshot with Female Model


Two-Light Standing Pose Headshot with Male Model


Two-Light Standing Pose Headshot with Female Model


One Light Low Key Headshot with Male Model


Two Light Low Key Headshot with Female Model


General Q&A


Constant Light: Low Key Classic Headshot with Male Model


Constant Light: Low Key Classic Headshot with Female Model


Constant Light: Standing Pose Headshot with Male Model


Constant Light: Standing Pose Headshot with Female Model


Setting up the Background for Extraction Shoot


Shooting for Extraction Headshot with Male Model


Shooting for Extraction Headshot with Female Model


Shooting Low Key Modern Headshots for Extraction


Basic Headshot Facial Retouching Techniques


Basic Headshot Eye Retouching Techniques


Basic Headshot Retouching Techniques: Dodge and Burn


Basic Headshot Retouching Q&A


Extracting a Single Subject


Creating a Headshot Composite


F-Type Headshot Lighting: Equipment and Principle


F-Type Headshot Lighting: Execution


Shooting Headshots in Volume


Lesson Info

One Light Low Key Headshot with Male Model

I do rely on posing stools a lot. And this is our make-shift posing table right here. Now, a posing table is almost, sort of a, a lost art, or a lost artifact. In fact, sometimes it's even hard to find one of these bad boys. The one I bought, I bought off of another photographer friend of mine. So, this is not exactly a posing table, but this is our approximation of a posing table. So, we're gonna go ahead and show you how to do a little bit easier, more casual look using that posing table. So, I just gotta switch this light over to the other light stand, and so, if we have any questions that you wanna address while we do that, that'd be cool. Do you ever use a cable release? You talked about being on a tripod in order to be able to communicate with your subjects. Do you ever use a cable release for that same purpose? I don't personally, but I think they're awesome. I guess I have no idea why I haven't used one before but, the way I shoot, but, for me, it's just one more thing to f...

uddle with, when most of the time I don't really need it 'cause all I have to do is go like this, ya know? A friend of mine who shoots animals and people, and people with their pets, he has a cable release and you can get one wired, or wireless cable release, because he is trying to get the animal's attention and it's easier for him to do that standing, so he's got it already focused, ready to go, so he goes (whistles) and as soon as they look, bam! That's what it is, so it's actually a pretty cool tool to have. I don't typically whistle at people when I'm shooting them, but uh, no, it'd be awesome. You could absolutely use one of those. Talk us through what you're setting up here. Sure, what I'm gonna set up is we looked at the low-key classic, with a little more casual of a pose, and actually, go ahead, let's do that. Oscar, we'll use you first. Go ahead and lose the jacket, and I want you to loosen up the tie, and unbutton the neck button, if you would. And we'll lock these into place here. 'Cause you're not always gonna be called upon to do, sort of, the formal stuff and somebody wants to look a little more relaxed, it's a really good way to do it. Perfect. Just movin' around. Can I get another light stand for this? Do we have that? Another light stand? Yeah, actually I could just use this one. No problemo. I just wanted to put this light over here so that you guys can see what I'm doing. There's a lot of stuff to remember when you're doing something like this. They're a lot of people watching. Alright, cool. By the way, still just using Speedlights. Okay, cool. Perfect. Alright. Oscar, you ready? Come on. Yeah, give a little roll of the cuffs too, I dig that, man. That's cool. Some I'm gonna keep the background lighting the same, but what's really good about a posing stool, is you can get a totally different head shot look just to have somebody leaning in. Engaging can be just a gesture. I'm still gonna shoot in pretty tight, it's not gonna be a body shot, but it is gonna be a way to get a totally different look, without changing that much. Alright, so I want you to lean, make sure this is a good height for you, I want you to lean forward a little bit, just onto that. We almost kissed, just now. Alright, just a little taller. (chuckles) There we go. How's that going? Good. And bring your hands almost across, like you're just gonna be leaning, holding your, yeah! There you go, perfect man, that's cool. Alright, so we're gonna stay on the table, go with me this way. There you go, perfect. Into the light. So, you see now, what I've done is I've brought the face a little closer to the camera just by having him lean a little bit, and I'm gonna use the same principals that I've done in the classic lighting stuff. Feathering the light across. Using a fill, just like so, and I'm probably gonna grab this guy and put it underneath. What's cool, too, if you have a posing table, you can actually put a reflector on the posing table. Which is actually kind of a neat trick. I've seen people do it with the same reflector boards, that whole kind of thing. I've even seen people use a mirror on a posing table, which can actually be pretty cool. Either way, the point is the same. To get that light, that fill light, up. Alright, guys, we gotta make some room here. There we go. You ever thought about going into politics? Got a great face, I'd vote for ya. Okay, perfect. Okay, so basically it's gonna be the same setup that we've used for a lot of other lighting types, but what we've done is, all he's done is take off his jacket, roll up his sleeves, unbutton the top button, remove the tie, and now we're gonna get something a little more casual. Shift your weight onto the other elbow, so that you're leaning, yeah! There you go. Perfect. Okay. Now, I have no idea what the exposure will be at this point. I know that based on how my lights are positioned that I should be pretty good with the lighting ratio, and with the background. So, let's just do a test shot. (camera shutter clicking) Okay, looks pretty good. I'm gonna bring down that back light a little bit, so that I don't get too much detail. I'm gonna go for a little more of a hint, here. Perfect. Alright I'm just gonna come up and adjust your shirt a little bit, but you're doing fine. But, it's a natural pose. You see how easy it is? I haven't really had to do hardly anything with him to make the pose work. 'Cause guys are used to leaning on stuff. Alright, you're gonna go this way a little bit, turn your head into the light just a touch, bring your chin down, perfect. Yeah, you look very approachable. (camera shutter clicking) Cool. So, what I've got there is a totally different look. I've got all the detail, everything I need, a nice ratio, and we've created a little more editorial feel to it with very, very little effort, do you understand? Very cool. So, I want you to relax those shoulders, alright? And I want you to, with your face, you know the look right before you tell somebody a story? Give me a grandpa look, like, well, here we go. Thanks, grandpa. Chin down a little bit, yeah. (camera shutter clicking) I like that a lot. Very, very good. I like to be in nice and tight for these. Now, what I want is even take a tiny step back with your feet and lean into me a little more. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, there we go. Now we'll even get some of the arms in there. (camera shutter clicking) Boom. Piece of cake. And I'll bring the power back up on that light 'cause I want a little more. I really haven't had to change much. There we go. Nice, good friendly look, perfect. One, (camera shutter clicking) and two. (camera shutter clicking) Good, alright. So, let's take a look at those. You see, just by using one little tool, that posing table which, I'm assuming you could probably make one (laughs). They did. But yeah, right in there, lighting ratio's good, separation from the background. I'm using a little more shallow depth of field. You can see, the buttons on his shirt are a little more out of focus, where his eyes, nose, mouth, chin, forehead all in focus. Now, we had people asking earlier, Gary, about the jacket and you showed us that you were kind of paying attention to if it's ruffling or what have you, same goes here. Are you worried about the ruffles on his shirt, would you go and perfect that, or is that part of the look for the different styles? I might mess with it, truly, I might mess with it a little bit, but for the most part, I don't mind. It's suppose to have a little more look. Thank of it like, if you're doing somebody who is, they're a home builder, or something like that, and you want it a little more like a blue collar kind of look to it. But you can fuss with it as much as you like, and I might straighten out some of those a little bit. I was a little more concentrating on showing you guys the lighting technique. Sure, yeah. But absolutely, as much as you want. There's probably some people who suffer with a little OCD out there, right now, watching going, oh my god, straighten the wrinkles in the shirt! But, I might not, I kinda dig it. The whole point of it is to look a little more natural, to me, but that's up to you. Cool. Any other questions before we move this on further? I think we can keep moving. The one thing that I'm seeing a lot of people ask about is if you don't have these particular, these particular modifiers, reflectors, what have you, is it just getting something that's similar in size or what are some recommendations for if you don't have these specific ones? Oh, sure, like, on the gear list, the specific ones. Lots of companies make reflectors. There are round ones and square ones, and white ones and silver ones and gold ones. These are just the ones I use because they're the most responsive, especially when I'm using a small light source, but you can go in almost any camera shop that sells pro gear and find equivalents. I have see people use, literally I'm not kidding, aluminum foil taped over cardboard boxes do the same effect. It's just a flat reflective surface to bounce the light around. The reason that you want to, um, you don't even have to use ones as big as this for head shots. You can use, actually, fairly smaller ones. I use these because rather than have 20 different ones, I have this 4 x 6 because I'm often times doing medium and full length shot for my clients, as well. They will work great for a head shot, but they'll also, if I need to take a step back and do a 3/4 or full length of that same client, I don't have to run and get a different reflector. That one will cast that same reflection all the way down the body, if that makes sense. And if I was doing a full length shot in the studio, I wouldn't be using a light source this small either. I'd be using something much bigger, which we're gonna do tomorrow, because we're gonna get into the big light sources, and getting a little more complicated. Getting into studio lighting both constant and strobes. We'll be done with the Speedlights as of today, but it is pretty cool that they can do all this stuff. Told you they were versatile, and, by the way, we've been shooting for awhile and the battery's still holding out in this one, I just wanted to point that out. But you can get batter packs for those. So, Gary, probably the biggest question and the most voted, most asked is about glasses, and how do you deal with people with highly reflective glasses? Do we have a set of glasses we can use up here? If we don't have any today, we can show it, maybe tomorrow, but maybe you could just talk to how to got about that. That's a fantastic, fantastic point. Hey, Cliff, do you wanna come model for a second? Hey, Oscar, take a break buddy, thank you. I can't even believe that I didn't think to mention this. This is a palm to the forehead moment because one of the biggest reasons to feather your light across your subject is because you don't get glare in the glasses. You will got the fall off and the beautiful light, but there's no reflection in the lenses. Now, that being said, depending on the clientele that you're shooting, if I'm going go shoot, let's say for a convention of financial advisors and stuff like that, if I shoot 50 people with glasses, 45 of them are gonna have those non-reflective lenses. They're just so common nowadays that most people's lenses are polarized and non-reflective. However, when you do photograph somebody that does have them, if you feather that light off to the side, you're not gonna have a problem. Do you have the polarized, non-reflective ones? Well, what good are ya? (laughter) Let's go ahead, we'll get that posing table outta there, and I'll just show ya for the sake of showing ya. We'll try and get a reflection, we'll try to get the light to show up in the glasses, and then we'll feather it and show you the difference. Okay. You've been a really good sport today, Cliff. (laughs) By the way, Cliff is a professional martial artist so, if I really made him mad, he'd just snap me in half. Alright, turn this way into the light for me sir, if you would, thank you. Now, let me just grab a quick shot where I'm gonna try and get reflection. Alright, turn your head a little bit this way, and bring your chin down just a touch. Ya see, Cliff can do it too. Not just models. (camera shutter clicking) Yeah, it's hard to tell. He's got those glasses that don't reflect at all. Anybody got some cheap glasses? No? Okay. (laughs) Sunglasses would be a great idea, actually, do you have a pair of sunglasses? Let's do that. Actually, let's get Charney up here and we can put those sunglasses on her. Yeah, look at that! You need a new head shot, Cliff? (laughs) Okay, cool. It's super, super easy to do. If you have that light facing directly at your subject, when you have any reflective surface, obviously you're gonna get the reflection of that in the glasses. But if you pull it to the side, you're not gonna get it. There's so many reasons why we pull it off to the side, and, as a by-product, when you're shooting en masse, it really does help. But, even when I'm gonna show you the F type lighting on tomorrow, on the last segment, that's a great, big light and there's not getting around it. So, sometimes I just have a bit of glare, but most of the time, I don't have a problem with it. Even when I do, I actually send it out to have the glare removed 'cause it's worth it. I love the lighting so much, that I'm willing to pay, I think it's something like $ to have the glare removed off of glasses, so I'll send out 10 photos, pay $30 to have the glare removed. Alright, thank you. You are so on point today. You ready? Alright, don't break 'em. (giggles) Yeah, I use uh, again, I think I said I use and they'll remove, I mean, they'll make it look like it was never there. If you really want to, you can actually, I've done it before, where I will take one picture with the glasses and I'll have my assistant take the glasses off, and I'll take the same picture without, and I'll just take two seconds, you just (two whooshing sounds), and rub through the thing with the lenses. It's really, really easy. You look so cool right now. (giggles) Alright, here we go. Okay, you ready? Say, (mimicking Arnold Schwarzenegger) I'll be back. I'll be back. You didn't have to say it, it's just a joke. Perfect! Oh, wow, that's not a bad picture. So, here's the other thing too, about using a reflector underneath, sometimes you're gonna get the glare of that in the glasses. We're gonna move that light to the side. There we go, we might need to power that up just a little. Yeah, it's mostly the reflector underneath. (camera shutter clicking) Okay, and we definitely got less, but if you move it to the side, you don't have the, so, you got the light in the first one on the top, and then underneath, you still have the reflector. So, I'm gonna back that off a little bit. And I think it's also reflecting one of the lights here in the studio, from up top. 'Cause that's not my light, is it? ♪ Ba-Da-Bum-Bum ♪ Yeah, that's one of the lights in the studio. Also, by the way, since I have a light up here behind me, if you lower your chin a little bit, you can see the light in the angle of view. Lift your chin, and there's a light right there. Lift it higher. Let's take a test shot. I'm shootin' up your nose, sorry. (camera shutter clicking) Boom. And now, even when the light is feathered, I find that if you lower the chin, keep coming, and there we go. (camera shutter clicking) Boom. So, if we put those two up, you can control the amount that gets into the lenses just by the head angle, so, taking a slightly higher angle and coming down, and having the client tip and lower their chin a little bit is a really good way to reduce that glare also.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

6 Styles of Headshots
Gear List

Ratings and Reviews

Melville McLean

Gary Hughes is possibly the best teacher I have seen here and that is a very high compliment. His business analysis is simple and to the point. His set ups and techniques are simple and straight forward, no easy task in itself. His interactions with his models/clients are finely developed and reduced into the fewest but most important key exchanges. He teaches by example how to interact and direct. If you are a high volume photography with brief time per sitter, you might especially appreciate his tips. It is extraordinarily difficult to keep a tight, well structured class going live for so long at a time. His intelligence, wit and personality are all in his favor but it is the content itself that is most impressive. I am not a portrait photographer but I have 30 years of commercial studio experience. He knows what is most important, leaves out the rest and has organized the material in anticipation of most difficulties that arise so that it rests in a seamless, smooth, coherent learning experience. All of his practical advice is excellent. Just understand that his work is about doing a relatively large number of shots in the most efficient way rather than a lot of time spent on a few clients for a completely different format [presentation like very large prints. In fact he is especially pragmatic. He emphasizes that you do not have to own the most expensive equipment but you absolutely do have to know how to use the equipment that you already have. And I am telling you this as someone he makes fun of in his course with fancy cameras and Profoto lighting gear. He is an advocate of all thought out approaches as well as relying on skills and knowledge. You will understand how and why to make all of his key, conventional light and posing set ups. He makes everything sound simple and doable -- and with his help -- it is. What you have to appreciate is that it is up to each individual to acquire the specialized skills to make our work compelling enough to be competitive. The unspoken truth that we all face is that talent plays a key role as well and that it takes time to become every accomplished. But I have also seen concentration, commitment and hard work result in developing innate talents that blossom in very successful careers. Mr Hughes reduces every step into the clearest, most essential components. He is self effacing both as a photographer and post process retoucher but he is very good indeed and does not waste time overdoing images that cannot benefit from a larger format presentation. Everything is appropriate and practical. He has already removed everything that does not matter for his purposes for us that would only interfere with the concise, clarity of his presentation.


I am so glad that I had the opportunity to watch this course. It has not only provided valuable lighting set-ups, but also great basics for posing.!. The Photoshop extraction technique Gary demonstrated was icing on the cake. Gary did a great job teaching and I greatly admired the technique in which he taught. Thanks for a great class!


This was an excellent class! The class covered so much information and great tips and ideas. Gary is funny and has an easy going approach, which makes the class that much more enjoyable. As a struggling pet photographer, I have been trying to find something to supplement my business with that does not involve children/babies, or shooting weddings again and headshots seemed to be a great option. After watching this class, I feel confident building up a headshot component to my business. Definitely recommend this class!

Student Work